‘Extremely irresponsible’: Chinese scientist slams WHO chief

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·3-min read

A Chinese scientist on the international team investigating the origins of Covid-19 has lashed out at the World Health Organisation's (WHO) chief over his calls for a further probe into a potential lab leak, China's state media reports. 

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has repeatedly stressed the importance of not politicising investigations into the origins of Covid-19.

But the Hubei Media Group, from the province in which Wuhan is the capital, has now published comments from an unnamed scientist on the investigation team suggesting Tedros himself had ignored the investigators' scientific approach.

“Tedros’ remarks were extremely irresponsible,” the expert said in the article, the South China Morning Post reports.

“As an authoritative body in the field of global public health, the WHO should have shown more respect for science, held science in awe and taken the lead in maintaining the authority of the report," the. scientist said. 

"However, director general Tedros disregarded the experts’ painstaking research and scientific consensus, which should not be the WHO’s position."

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pictured in a suit and square glasses.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus uncharacteristically criticised China last month. Source: Getty

Last month Tedros sensationally disputed Chinese and Western experts' readiness to dismiss the leak theory surrounding the Wuhan Institute of Virology, calling for further investigations. 

“I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough,” he said.

He also criticised China for a lack of case data that was provided to Western experts during the WHO-led mission to Wuhan at the beginning of the year.

His words were in stark contrast to his narrative throughout the pandemic where he defended Beijing over their response to the emergence of the virus in Wuhan, prompting heavy criticism from the West, particularly in the US and then president Donald Trump.

China concerned WHO is siding with US

Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank told the South China Morning Post the expert's views, likely approved by the Communist Party of China, revealed Beijing's rage at the WHO's shift in stance.

“I feel it’s not so much an indication of China’s displeasure of what Tedros said, as China’s frustration that WHO is siding with the US and some Western countries to pressure China,” he said.

China has repeatedly refuted suggestion the virus leaked from a Chinese lab, instead promoting other theories the virus had originated overseas, possibly in Europe or even the US. 

Lead Chinese scientist Liang Wannian also said last month the cold chain transmission theory "plays an important part" in the virus's origins. It follows a persistent campaign from state-run Chinese media, both local and international, that looks to deflect blame for the pandemic. 

Yet foreign experts, including several mission team members including Vladimir Dedkov have said it is unlikely to have caused the original outbreak.

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